French Kicks

The latest from these fashionably flip young men takes on a new-wave polish that accentuates the hooks and speeds the rhythm section to heel-popping precision. Precious, but in a savagely catchy way.

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Guided by Voices

Lord only knows if the Ohio basement legends are still relevant, and only the same lord knows if relevancy is still relevant. Alls I know is that the adventurous stew of riffs, hooks, and twee vocals will cause an involuntary reaction from me as long as my feet can tap and my head can nod. There are a ton of archived MP3s at both Matador and, so stick around for a while.

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A.C. Newman

The New Pornographers resident pop auteur lead singer guy puts together his own set of finely polished gems that have the get-up-and-go (“Miracle Drug”) of his best efforts with the “supergroup” and the jaded sunshine (“Drink to Me Babe, Then”) of the late-great Zumpano. A few more like these from Newman and Ben Folds will have to work harder to get our attention.

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Royal City

I stumbled upon these tracks (if one can call a mis-click of a mouse a stumble). Of course, you can’t be without their great cover of The Strokes, “Is This It?” — but that’s no fluke. More pop than country, more lemonade than bourbon.

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Meow Meow

Christopher O’Brien’s gently wilting vocals find uneasy peace around screechy, scratchy, scrunchy sounds from a guitar that, like a good cowboy, just canĂ­t be tamed. Fans of dissonance, Meow Meow give you a twister-full of noise. Fans of pop craft, Meow Meow give you the bittersweet sunny day after the storm.

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Mahjongg is an ancient Chinese tile game responsible for the academic downfall of countless college students. The band Mahjonng has similar powers with their frenzied pop disarray (a la the supremely underrated Beatnik Filmstars). Be strong.

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With a penchant for literary lyrics, Puritan manage loose, almost off-handed pop songs to dark, dusty anti-ballads with a Malkmus-esque flair. Imagine Lloyd Cole making music in an American bedroom without the Commotions.

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